Building a pipeline of skilled workers through cyber security challenges

Building a pipeline of skilled workers through cyber security challenges

There is a global shortage of skilled cyber security workers. Our projections suggest that the shortage in Australia could reach 18,000 within the next decade.

AustCyber’s mission is to grow a vibrant and dynamic Australian cyber security sector. We need to have a pipeline of skilled cyber security professionals to enable that growth across industry, government and academia. We collaborate across the education system and beyond to address the workforce shortage through a number of strategic and tactical initiatives aimed at all ages.  These activities highlight the variety of career opportunities and pathways available in cyber security, as well as supporting skills development and transfer across the ecosystem. 

Cyber security challenges are a fun way for learners to develop and test their practical skills. Through immersion in real-world scenarios, participants gain practical experience of what it is like to operate as a cyber security practitioner in the workplace.

AustCyber supports a range of cyber security challenges around Australia and, in 2018-19, we were proud to help pilot a new initiative – CyberTaipan. CyberTaipan provides an Australian arm to the growing global Youth Cyber Defence Challenge Network and is modelled on the US Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program. It is based on a proven framework for educating and inspiring youth aged 12 to 17 towards further education and careers in cyber security and other STEM subjects. 

Initiatives like CyberTaipan are crucial to increasing awareness of cyber security as a career path for thousands of young Australians, as well as providing a safe, challenging way to learn new skills for the future. 

In March 2019, we were delighted to deliver the National Finals for the CyberTaipan pilot, alongside the presenting sponsor Northrop Grumman. 

130 students from ten schools and community groups across the country travelled to Canberra to battle it out for first, second and third place. Working together in teams, students faced a day of tough challenges designed to mimic the real-life cyber threats that a newly-hired cyber security professional might face. 

Top placed teams on the day were from The Southport School (QLD) in first place, a team from Lake Tuggeranong College (ACT) in second place and Air Force Cadets Squadron 415 (VIC) in third place. 

The competition was hosted at Canberra Institute of Technology with the awards ceremony at the Australian Parliament House. You can get a taste of the electric atmosphere in this video:

The CyberTaipan pilot was full of opportunities for competitors and coaches to learn more about cyber security as a career and the skills required to flourish in the field. 

AustCyber CEO Michelle Price said, “We’ve got a huge global shortage of cyber security professionals around the world including in Australia. CyberTaipan and competitions like this are incredibly important to make sure we’ve got the right kinds of skills going into every workplace across the economy.”

“We congratulate all the teams that took part in the inaugural CyberTaipan National Finals,” said Diane Miller, Director, Global Cyber Education and Workforce Initiatives at Northrop Grumman. "There’s nothing like a hands-on competition to reinforce what the students are learning in the classroom.”

To help demonstrate the CyberTaipan journey, we followed teams from Melba Copland Secondary School, ACT, as they made their way through the practice and scoring rounds of the competition. You can find out more here:

CyberTaipan was presented by Northrop Grumman and the Pilot Program was sponsored by PwC Australia, BlackBerry and Woodside Energy.

Read more from our sponsors:

If you would like to get involved with cyber security challenges in the future, you can use our challenges dashboard to find the next one held near you.

You can read more about the skills gap and how AustCyber is closing this by harnessing the sector to its full growth potential in Australia’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan 2018.